Thursday, January 24, 2013

Dennis on: "I'm Calling a Fast."

"I'm Calling a Fast."

Dennis Diehl - EzineArticles Expert AuthorEvidently Dave Pack, Apostle for the Restored Church of God, is in a bit of a bind.  Pledges pledged aren't manifesting as pledged.  This is a common occurrence when fundraising is based on pledges because at the time the emotion of the call and the desire to participate are often bigger than the reality of the bank account. Both Jerry Lewis and NPR understand this well.

I would imagine Dave has a double problem in that a couple years ago everyone was bullied to "send it in" and you can only do that once.  Gee, I wish I could have an income anytime I just said "send it in."   I recall a command of sorts that said,  "And I don't just mean a little. I mean ten thousand , twenty thousand , a hundred thousand..."    Whew...  And now evidently he needs more because of more non-accountability decisions where bucks are needed.   Solution:  Fast and pray.

Most who read this site are well aware of the call to fast and pray during real or imagined emergencies in "the work."   In hind site, the real reason, even if leadership did not know it, was to serve as a distraction to questions about what might be going on and suggestions that rather than push the spiritual burden onto the members and the Deity, one might spend less, change the plan or simply repent of the foolishness of whatever was going on now.  Fasting seemed the tool of congregational distraction and leadership frustration with what to do about any number of things that were out of leadership control.

Personally, I never liked fasting and was not even a big fan of the Day of Atonement.  I never noticed any great changes or interventions whether I fasted or not.  I often wondered, especially now in the day of the Hubbell Telescope, just what am I trying to do?   Is there a God wanting to see me squirm in hunger.  Is this Deity impressed with me not eating and more inclined to listen and answer with a big "YES!"?    If so, what kind of Deity does that and why?  Am I coercing him by my act of not eating for a relatively short time?  Could I accomplish as much if I didn't take a bath for a week or held my breath until I passed out in prayer?  

Frankly I never got it  (please don't say, "and that is why you got no answer) and while I'm sure I gave sermons on it, I'm not sure I ever believed it.  I did read what the Bible said about it, why one does it and what to expect, but never saw much difference in myself or the Church for actually doing what it said.   It was much like "Ask whatever you will in my name and I will give it to you."  While pretty straight forward, it always came with lots of disclaimers and conditions like, "well you have to ask within God's will."  "You are asking amiss."  "God did answer and the answer was 'no'."    "Your ways are not God's ways,"  and so forth.  You simply could not win.  By the time you fulfilled and recognized all the disclaimers the scripture should have read "Ask whatever you will and if you have a great attitude, if it is good for you, if you don't ask amiss and if you are within my will do it, I will maybe do it, but probably not."

Anyway, back to fasting.  I believe that calling a fast in this modern day an age is a diversion used too often by the COGs to draw attention and responsibility away from the leadership who finds itself in a jam.  If the income is down we fast which as far as I can tell does not coerce the Deity into sending more but does coerce the flock, through guilt, to sacrifice more because after all, they are fasting.  Since God owns the cattle on a thousand hills could we not just as much "ask what we will" and ask him to sell some and "send it in" to the True Church we could continue to preach the Gospel (and pay our salaries)?  Combine both those concepts and skip the fasting one.

In my actual experience, I don't see where fasting does as advertised.  Just as I don't see how "prove me now herewith and see if I don't open the windows of heaven for you" by tithing.  I guess I'd have to throw in, "Is any sick among you? Let him call for the elders of the church ....and the sick shall be made well."  Again, can't skip the oil thing and "ask whatever we will"?   This is serious stuff and if you won't answer this one, what do you answer with "yes...I will send it by noon."

All this rather lines up with the concept that "without the shedding of blood, there is NO FORGIVENESS of sin."  Really?  Why not?  Why can't I ask whatever I will, such as "please forgive me," and skip the mess and the middlemen.  Was that concept concocted by Priests who made their living off blood shedding and sacrifices?  I am suspicious.  Let's face it, if some Old Testament character way ahead of his or her time could convince the crowds that they didn't have to buy expensive animals and take hundreds of hours a year to get them killed and drained for their sins, the Temple and Priesthood would be out of business, and I do mean business.

Well, this is not a big topic.  We all know what the Bible says about it but I am looking back at the fruits of it all and perhaps the real motives of those that command others to follow them in a fast for whatever.  It seems something done to control the mind of the faithful, wear them down a bit, guilt them a lot and distract them from their leadership making the hard decisions to back down from glorious and expensive ideas about how they want to do their work.  

Instead of fasting for income and because the building fund pledges or the income or the problems of the church are huge, why not, members, try this.

"I want to build a college."

"No, its too expensive and stupid idea. Few will come and who is going to pay for all this and run it when you croak?"

"I want to expand our printing and the coverage of my wonderful telecast to all the world."

"That's fine when you have inspired the ones you have already to send in enough to take the next step but please don't ask us for any more money.  We did send it in last time."

"We want to pick up and mover our headquarters to another state."

"Screw that!"

I think we get the point.  Money is the grease that lubes the wheel of everyone's "work."  It is not prayer.  It is not fasting to coerce the Deity or show it how humble one is so please "send it in from on high."  It is money and you can't get money out of a turnip as they say, but for some reason Ministers and especially the self appointed Apostles and Prophets, Witnesses and Watchers are more bold about it.

Just think how your money bought Ron Weinland and Laura big houses, fancy cars, gold, diamonds and world tours to speak to a few folk and call it all "Church."  You really have to not have a conscience to do that and we know what that's a definition of.

So, yet another fast is called by yet another Guru who needs, not more faith, hope or love, but money.  I don't know or not if Dave Pack can pull off the College thing.  I do know he is not big enough to need it.  I can't imagine who would waste their time and money on attending if they did their homework on a good theological background check.  What kind of God Haunted and brain dead kids would go?  I think we are past the time where parents get to pick the college for the kids but maybe not.  

In the Church of God, calling a fast, IMHO, is a diversion from facing realities and addressing them.  They are usually called to address them long after they should have first been addressed for then one would not be fasting.  Fasts are called because the leadership of either a few or just the one is nervous about money and paying the bills they/he ring up without oversight or accountability.

This my experience as a member and a minister having soaked for decades in these fasts and pleas appearing to follow Biblical injunctions for such times as these, but in fact, consciously or unconsciously using it to divert from Church issues that should have been better handled in first place and way back when some genius thought them up.



Douglas Becker said...

I'm calling it a big fat fast one.

Too bad that someone didn't count the cost before they built....

Anonymous said...

Dave is just following the example of HWA in this regard - here's a link that has many of HWA's past member/co-worker letters that in essence were one long constant plea for money to "save the Work!"

Anonymous said...

Here's just one sample from 1946:

Anonymous said...

And just three years later in 1949 yet another crisis threatened!

Anonymous said...

COG money-making tactics never change. They're just like the North Korean leadership, every time they start "threatening" the United States - and they just did once again today - everybody knows it's a sign that yet another crisis has arisen within the country, and so to divert the starving population from it's woes let's get them chanting against America.

But somehow I wouldn't be surprised if Dave's pretensions and lack of foresight may not be able to be bailed out with help from his starving member base.

Anonymous said...

My question is a simple one: if Dave's church is really the one and only true work of God, then why doesn't God powerfully back up all the bluster and claims of his one and only true servant by sending in a huge fortune large enough to cover all the pledges that RCG members obviously can't afford?

Remember all your recent boasts, Dave - by January of 2015 such great things would be done by your group that virtually all members would by then be a part of it. We won't let you nor your gullible band of followers forget this, Dave.

Douglas Becker said...

And here Psalms says that the psalmist has never seen the righteous begging for bread.

Dave Pack is proving that wrong on so many levels....

Anonymous said...

Send me offerings and empty your coffers as I am starting a COG TRUCKMASTERS SCHOOL OF TRUCKING!

At least you will have a legitimate job skill when you graduate!

Joe Moeller
Cody, WY

Anonymous said...

Dave is not one to call fasts and this seems to be a first. I suspect things are not going as awesomely well as projected. For him to "call a fast" is unusual because it would signal a sign of weakness and need and these are not concepts Dave ever wants to deal with since he is so over arching and amazing and all that.

Anonymous said...

Great picture! That has been the motive behind every fast in UCG over the years.

Anonymous said...

You asked for thoughts...

And how were you any different. Didn't you suck of the hind tit of the membership preaching things (by your own admission) that you didn't believe all for the almighty buck until you got tossed?

DennisCDiehl said...

I was extremely sincere and wanted to believe what the Book said, not what the organization said. Over years I saw that things don't work out as advertised. I fully believed what I said because the Bible said it but it took some time to build up enough experience to see that it did not deliver.

I wanted to believe what I read. It just took time to see, as many also saw over time, that it did not work out as advertised. My intention or hope that what I read was true was never in doubt. I was a believer until I was not

Anonymous said...

Basically, Dave is asking the members to fast so that those same members will feel more inspired to send him the money they don't have. Seems like he's asking for an act of self-inflicted divine armtwisting. "If I can't convince you to cough up the cash, maybe you can ask god to convince you for me?" It's like a con artist who is so lazy, he asks the suckers to con themselves out of their own cash.

Why would anyone participate in said fast? I'd be willing to bet that the majority of members don't even want this unnecessary copycat headquarters. They know there aren't enough members in RCG to warrant it or afford it.

Lake of Fire Church of God said...

Great article, Dennis! A better question is “why fast?”

The whole Worldwide Church of God experience with all the accompanying drama has made this reader completely numb to calls for “fasting” and clarion calls to “send it all in”. I remember the Church wide fast for Garner Ted Armstrong when he was “in the bonds of Satan” and “having emotional problems” according to his Father, Herbert Armstrong, only to find out the truth was that GTA was in “the bonds of the stewardess on the Church jet” contemplating leaving his wife for her. In retrospect, what a lie and what a joke!

Then, there were the various “Fasts for the Work” whenever there were financial crisis - which was often. In retrospect, it was normally the result of Church mis-management and malfeasance. Reports of GTA’s gambling debts came during one Church fast.

Somehow, God was not impressed by the Work of God being done in his name. There is no Ambassador College or Worldwide Church of God today despite all the tithes and offerings and various fasts to God through the decades.

“In vain do they worship me!” perhaps may be the most pointed and truthful words of the Bible. To experience a lifetime of Worldwide Church of God drama and baggage; to see the prophecies of return of Christ go unfulfilled despite the assurances that “time is short” from the self proclaimed Apostle of God; leaves one very numb to calls for fasting and the “clarion calls to send it in”. One might even become a scoffer!

Perhaps the idiots who come in God’s name deceiving many – the Dave Packs, the Gerald Flurrys or the Roderick Merediths – have created the situation of self-fulfilling bible prophecy causing people like me to become “scoffers” (or skeptical) experiencing the drama of the WCG first hand for a lifetime – a lifetime that was suppose to end with the return of Jesus Christ in 1975. And then, many other dates thereafter. “In vain do they worship me” sums up the whole WCG experience for me. It was all a waste!


Anonymous said...

He can always file for bankruptcy now that he's in over his head; then point to the membership ranting, "God allowed that to TEACH YOU A LESSON."

Fasting ... Dennis, my thoughts exactly from the very first required WCG fast. Yet, no one ever dared say that out loud before. If you listened to the members, they would speak about all they gained from a day or two of fasting, leaving the rest of us riddled with guilt from our ineffectiveness. I knew a member who fasted himself to death after 5 days without food or water. His objective was to get "closer to God." Very sad.

DennisCDiehl said...

"I knew a member who fasted himself to death after 5 days without food or water. His objective was to get "closer to God." Very sad."

Little did he know he'd get his wish.

It was difficult to understand the "why" of the practice of fasting. Did such a puny endeavor really draw one closer to the Deity? Did the Deity actually react more kindly to those who didn't eat for a day or so? Rather ranked right up there were "for I the Lord your God am a jealous God.." Really? So we had a jealous God who was nicer to us if we didn't eat for a time. Really makes no sense and that kind of Deity is certainly not very big minded or benevolent.

And as I say, we live in the Age of the Hubbell Telescope. The Hubbell Deep Field view back into a very small totally dark space in our sky revealing 3000 galaxies in one small place, each with a hundred billion stars , 10 million light years away is more humbling than skipping lunch.

Such practices really are way out of date but ok if you want to live in the Bronze age or the times of the Roman Empire.

DennisCDiehl said...

Come to think of it, do you ever remember hearing....

'Brethren, we have come to see we as leadership have lost our perspective. We need to be a more compassionate and mindful kind of leaders. We have become materialistic and petty. We have lost touch with you who have supported us lo these many years and we have not appreciated you as we should have. We have become vain in our imaginations and we have been foolish in our spending of the hard earned contributions you freely give. We have screwed over good men and women both member and minister. We have operated with out oversight or accountability and for this we are both truly sorry and recognize OUR need to get our sorry asses back on track and on a train that is actually going to the correct station. Therefore, we, the leadership are fasting this coming Sabbath to get our act together and we thank you for your loyal patience."

I didn't think so.....

Anonymous said...

I always found WCG's Reconciliation Dept and Ministry under Curtis May to make much ado about reconciling with all the wrong people.

Michael said...

Another general purpose of imposing a fast, i think, is to reinforce the herd mentality - get the congregation all doing something (suffering) in concert. Helps cement the group consciousness and a fair portion of the members will be more cognizant of their belonging to the "church". Hence the need to save it. Hence the need to send in whatever funds they can...

Anonymous said...

Fasting never made me feel closer to God. Rather, it made me weak, sick and irritable. It made me feel DIS-connected from everyone around me. How does that enhance the relationship with God? Never understood it. Always dreaded it.

On the money thing, it is difficult to consider the amounts of money now unavailable to my children and their dreams b/c we pissed it away sending in tithes and offerings (and my husband and I have done well, it is a LOT of money --- gone ---). What a colossal waste (and frankly, a lack of consideration for one's family, where good work can actually be done with our money resources). Aaaarggh.

Here's to hoping these guys all dry up soon. That would be worth fasting for...;-)

Corky said...

If you fast for a couple of days you can probably save at least $20 on food alone. Send it haven't lost anything unless you're diabetic or have some other medical problem where fasting is not a good idea.

What is fasting good for besides getting hungry? Well, it reinforces the idea of the why you are fasting in your mind. In the ACoG case, where a preacher calls for a fast, it reinforces the idea that the preacher is above you and has authority over you - even your own body.

Might as well pray too, because that reinforces the idea that there is 'someone' listening who might be interested in what you have to say. And, if, by some remote quirk of fate, the prayer is 'answered' you'll be convinced that there IS 'someone' listening. It can't be a coincidence because, well, it just can't be.

Many a person has prayed that the Book of Mormon is true and, lo and behold, the Book of Mormon is true and they become Mormons. That's just how easy it is for us to fool ourselves.

Douglas Becker said...

Fast so Davey can fulfill his lusts.

Anonymous said...

I always felt they should rather say, "I am calling a slow." since the day seemed endless

Anonymous said...

It's not right for a church leader to use these guilt-tripping tactics on his members (which is the result of the Church leader's mis-management).


UT, The Reigning Being of Being Banned By Banned By HWA said...

Brilliant idea Dennis!

You've inspired me to propose a fast too.

Why not go on a month-long fast from Armstrongism, anti-Armstrongism, religion, and anti-religion?

I barely tolerated and never got enlightenment, proximity, or swag from a fast either. However, I'm sure that this type of fast would truly work wonders for you!

In fact, I'll bet an Apostle's tithe that the longer you do this fast, the healthier you'll become.

You seem a tad kwazy; a bit kwanky lately. You insist the Bible should not be taken literally and then shout fraud over the parts most of us take figuratively but you find to be contradictory in the literal. You admit that pastoral care wasn't the right vocational fit for you, yet to-date, you can't help lend a scalpel in the shaping of tender minds with your deep-cutting essays.

If anyone deserves a break Dennis, 'tis you. I trust you know I only have your best interest at heart, so do fast on healthy Dennis!

Anonymous said...

UTs post is kinda kweepy.

Anonymous said...


Your post was very interesting and it kind of encourages one to ask: why fast anyway? Really?

If a fast is to be anything like the following, well, then God doesn't even want anything to do with it either:

Isaiah 58:3 "Wherefore have we fasted, say they, and thou seest not? wherefore have we afflicted our soul, and thou takest no knowledge? Behold, in the day of your fast ye find pleasure, and exact all your labours."
4 "Behold, ye fast for strife and debate, and to smite with the fist of wickedness: ye shall not fast as ye do this day, to make your voice to be heard on high."

So often fasts have been called for SELF, my, myself, I, my this, my that. Strife and debates continue on over one thing or another.

God's view? He doesn't want anyone to "...make your voice to be heard on high."

That comment makes a lot of sense to me...


Douglas Becker said...

Let Davey prove his spiritual commitment by fasting 40 days and 40 nights.

Anonymous said...

You gotta ask, what's in it for God or for the members?